Tarangire National Park contains the greatest concentration of wildlife outside the Serengeti ecosystem – a smorgasbord for predators – and the one place in Tanzania where dry-country antelope such as the stately fringe-eared Oryx and peculiar long-necked gerenuk are regularly observed. The landscape varies dramatically from the wet season to the dry.
During the dry, the Tarangire River shrivels to a shadow of its wet season self, but it is choked with wildlife as thirsty nomads wander hundreds of kilometres knowing that they will always find water here. Herds of up to 300 elephants scratch the dry river bed for underground streams, while migratory wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, impala, gazelle, hartebeest and eland crowd the shrinking lagoons.
During the rainy season, the seasonal visitors scatter over a 20000 sq km range until they exhaust the green plains and the river calls once more.
But Tarangire’s mobs of elephant are easily encountered, wet or dry and the swamps, tinged green year round, are the focus for 550 bird varieties, the most breeding species in one habitat anywhere in the world. And while you’re here, don’t forget to look up! Tarangire’s pythons climb trees, as do its lions and leopards, lounging in the branches where the fruit of the sausage tree helps disguise the switch of a tail.